The Secret World (TSW) is (almost) everything a nugget wanted GW2 to be.

TSW's combat is GW1 style, only evolved, and with enough differences to not be a blatant ripoff - more of a homage. Same way GW1 was a homage to Magic: The Gathering.

You can equip 7 active skills, which you can pick from any skills you've already learned, and you can use them as long as you meet the weapon requirements, if any. 1 of those 7 active skills can be an elite. There are another 7 passive skills, which can also contain one elite, so they don't crowd your skillbar. Similar, to, but at the same time, very different from, allocating skill points in GW1 to make a build.

In terms of combat mobility, you can move while casting (at least, I think you can), double tap to dodge, see AoE rings, blah blah. Circle-strafe like mad when outmatched, stand still and hit buttons when your opponents are puny. At least, in melee. Not sure how ranged works yet.

Mobs don't seem to be as smart as GW1 mobs, but I'm a newbie still (a whole 3 days!), so maybe they get smarter later on. So far, though, they're still better than many other MMO mobs. They DO try to surround you (and hit your back). But they currently don't run from aoe automatically, don't rez each other, etc.

The skills themselves have a lot of interplay between them, but the kind of interplay seems less sophisticated than what GW1 had. There's no costly skills that make a lot of sense - e.g., Flesh of My Flesh, Infuse Health, not that many skills that promote team play above selfishness, e.g. splinter weapon, and protection is not as subtle and beautiful, e.g. Reversal of Fortune, Aegis, Aura of Faith. And there are no minion masters. *sob*

If you like Lovecraftian alternate-universe type stuff, TSW is great. It feels like a rich, solid, plausible, well-built world. The world feels like it has history. Of course, it's easier in their kind of modern alternate-universe-history setting than in a purely made-up world, as it's as simple as going, 'Oh ohtay, that's New York, and Kingsmouth is in Maine.' ;)

Writing & Voiceovers
The writing is just a notch under Witcher and Witcher 2.

The voice acting is superb, AND, like Witcher and Witcher 2, the animations are well done enough that cut-scenes feel like movies, like actual... acting, instead of a poor relation.

Pricing Model
It's on a buy-the-box ($30 or $60, you pick), then subscription-optional model. As far as I can tell, the cash shop is not rapacious or evil. There are a few (very few, well hidden) lottery boxes, so it doesn't seem like that's their main revenue push, and there's very little to no outright selling of power. Lots of selling of fripperies. And subs members get a 10% discount.

Fashion is great fun. Since your gear doesn't show as clothes, your clothes don't matter. Meaning you can wear anything you like! ;) And there's heaps of it in the Pangea shop in London. And of course, more in the cash shop. I love fashion cs fripperies. XD

TSW is the place where crazed build-tinkerers from GW1 should go. For peeps like that, GW2 is an utter travesty. TSW is... the game that GW2 should have been.

LegendMUD folks - TSW is like GW1 met Legend, and they had an MMO baby. ~_o

RedAnt on how Clicktale doesn't quite tell the whole tale.

This Clicktale review is completely independent – we’ve used it on several projects where we wanted to better understand user interactions. We’ve had a chance to look at both the way it collects data and how it reports this information. We’ve also had the opportunity to compare the results against other other software tracking tools, as well as other approaches to the same task such as physical eye tracking. We started using Clicktale based on many of the positive reviews we’d read, but on further investigation many of these were paid reviews (via affiliate commission).

Clicktale is a software tool which allows you to track what users are doing on your website. It is used to analyse how people behave and what they do on particular pages. We’ve used it on several projects to try to gain a better understanding of how users were travelling through the site. More specifically, we were trying to get a better understanding of how they were using particular pages & forms, and what steps we could take to improve our conversion rate.

To summarise our experience, we were quite disappointed with the results. The Clicktale reports seem to illustrate certain behaviours and user problems, but after some investigation we realised these weren’t problems.

Users were in fact behaving differently to what this tool was describing.

We wasted a lot of time investigating issues that we couldn’t reproduce, and worrying about defects which weren’t there.

Our problem was that we realised that some of the Clicktale data was wrong… but the trouble was we didn’t know which bit.

Using Clicktale is not like looking over their shoulder. Clicktale records mouse position every second or so and keyboard strokes. Then, in a separate process, a Clicktale bot visits your site and takes a screenshot of that page. The actual playback is an animation of this screenshot and an image of a mouse cursor moving over the top of it. Similarly the heatmap uses this screenshot.

There are a few problems with this approach, but the primary one is that the screen that you’re seeing in the playback can be quite different to the one that your user just saw.

We've been using Clicktale too... This kinda explains some of our results. ._.

Forsaken World - It seems bizarre, but I love that FW is cash shop based.

Which is rather odd, coming from someone whose other MMO 'love' is Guild Wars - which is pretty much at the other end of the spectrum. Where what you get, you pay for with skill.

More specifically, I love how FW has built the entire game architecture around its cash shop.

Yes, it's Pay2Win, just like any other CS game.

You want the BEST gear? The BEST character? Pay for it - either in cash, or in scads of time. And it works beautifully.

It works beautifully because you can indeed pay for it in scads of time. Unlike other PWE games, there really is no NEED to use the cash shop. If you play 18 hours a day, every day, you most certainly won't need to use the cash shop. This is rather different from say, Jade Dynasty, where if you wanted to play 18 hours a day, every day, without using the cash shop, it would be so agonising as to be impossible. (Yes, I know China's JD doesn't have cash-shop-fuelled, PWE-approved bots. I don't even want to think about what JD would be like without those bots - or espers, as they're called.)

By 'pegging' the prices of RL currency to in-game currency, and further balancing that by making mobs and quests give untradeable currency, PWE has solved the inflation problems that plague this genre in one fell, elegant swoop.

And it isn't just the triple currency system which makes it shine. It's how they've thought out and integrated every single thing that has anything to do with economics, the game economy, and currency. They haven't just limited their economic controls to their trio of virtual currencies, one of which interfaces with real cash. They've elegantly tied crafting, consumables, gear drops and the player propensity to trade and hoard stuff into the system as well. And they've even created a crafting system where the crafted items are valuable at least half the time. Sometimes extremely valuable - and sometimes even more valuable than 'set' pieces even with their special bonuses. It's really nice to be able to sell the stuff you make for a decent price, to other players, and at least break even from crafting, if not always make a profit. (Gear is in the Diablo/WoW style, with both randomly statted pieces, and set pieces with random stats and set bonuses.)

What's more, it's because of this thought and integration that every single piece of gear in FW is BoE. No BoP gear. Ever. There *is* BoP stuff... but this BoP stuff is advanced crafting materials used to make potions and consumables. And it's bound because they want people to join guilds - and guess where these things can be bought? Ayup, higher level guildhalls.

Guilds (or more specifically, guildhalls) in FW require daily tradeable gold to maintain, in addition to other various point system scoreboards. For those of you who've MUDded, it's very much like the old 'rent' systems you'd find in some MUDs, with the main difference being that only guilds pay rent - players don't.

But back to the pure-BoE gear.

Even with gear being pure BoE, people do still run instances for gear because it is, after all, cheaper than buying it off the auction house - if you don't count the time you spend in instances hoping that something with stats you can use / the set piece you're looking for will drop.

What it means, though, is that you really, really, REALLY don't need to kill something(s) over and over again with people you can't bloody stand, just to get more/better stuff so you can... rinse and repeat.

But what, you ask, are you paying for, O gloriously juicy one? Are you pimping your yous out with your wallet? Should you not be buying crispy battered chicken instead?

Nah, I'm not paying to be THE BEST. On the level of cash shop whales, where spending goes into the thousands, and sometimes even tens of thousands, I have neither the means nor the desire to compete. What I find myself spending money on is mostly (lol) bags for my packrattitis, and stuff like that. Since I started playing FW slightly over 6 months ago, I've dropped US$50 on it - and I haven't even spent most of it yet. Meaning, I've bought the currency, but I think I've only actually *used* US$15 of that $50.

I do like earning my in-game tradeable cash by myself, even if it only exists because *other* people are spending money. It isn't the 'I'm too leet to cash shop' mentality - it's more of the, 'I currently don't feel any burning NEED (unless I'm feeling really lazy)'.

At levels 70-80 (my highest toon ATM is 60), I have a feeling that I *will* drop a bit of cash on my gear to bring it up to a standard of passability that satisfies me. However, PWE has designed FW so well that I know that I don't HAVE to spend that cash...

...if I play 3 times longer than I do now. XD

But hey, put it like that, and I'm suddenly very sure that I'd much rather drop the cash on it!

Interestingly, because of the odd mentality in CS games, people are somewhat more easygoing in instances than they are in subscription games, and CSing is NOT seen as being compulsory if you want to get into groups. There's a curious ambivalence when it comes to players who CS, not least because there are arena rankings as well.

On the one hand, people are happy that things die faster (as long as the things aren't themselves), when they're with a CSer. And on the other hand, there's the desire to poke one's nose in the air and say, 'All people who use the cash shop are clueless nubs, and not leet like meeeee...' But the end effect is that people in FW are pretty forgiving of gear that isn't all that good - vs gear that is poorly chosen but expensive. Poorly chosen expensive gear is met with vocal derision, due to the CS dynamic, and of course - envy! He blew all that cash on his gear, and it's stuff that's totally shit for his class? NOOOOOOOB!!!!

All in all, I'm surprisingly - and incredibly - happy with Forsaken World, despite its being the polar opposite of Guild Wars. Never thought I'd say this, but I love them both!

Forsaken World - Nugget's New MMO Toy in a Nutshell (1st week review)

I haz new MMO toy!

After a week or so of playing Forsaken World, including checking out their cash shop and comparing prices, I've come to the conclusion that if you're currently playing WoW (or DDO, or LotRO, or EQ, or Aion, or... well... you get the idea), and want to tour other MMO places, but aren't really looking for something new, Forsaken World is just the ticket.

It's the least rapacious PWE game I've played, and it's very much tailored for the English-speaking market, which is reflected in every aspect of the game. Most of PWE's games are obviously developed for China, because that's where they always launch first - which is entirely reasonable considering China is their home base, then adapted for English-speaking markets. Forsaken World, however, was obviously developed from the ground up with the English-speaking market in mind, with nods to China, with full intentions of trying to grab a substantial piece of the English micro transactional pie. (I refuse to call it Free2Play, since that term covers so many styles.) And from 1 week of FW, I think they have a pretty good chance of succeeding.

FW is the first PWE game where I'm saying, "Hmm... This is good enough and I'll play it for long enough that I WANT to spend 15 dollars on it this month, because I'll get as much worth as a subscription. But... I don't know what I want to buy." All the other PWE games that I've tried are NOT like that.

What's more, FW has some interesting mechanics in and of itself for the classes. Unique mechanics - which is why I said it's sort of a WoW clone - but with different classes. For instance, the bard class actually *gasp* uses a rudimentary form of *GASP* music, actual music. Or, well, chords, anyway. XD Which is not the same as music, but still... Basically, you can play sets of different chords to trigger different effects, and the chords really are accurate. For example, C and D sound like C and D based chords. It's really quite cute. So, er yes, this is the new toy!

So while FW is not really something new - Guild Wars is something new, Eve Online is something new, Atlantica Online is something new. Forsaken World? Nahhhhhhh... But it is VERY polished, and PWE even wrote the quests all properly in English this time. (Most of PWE's quests, if you READ them, are bizarre when rendered in English - but in FW, are properly done.)

PWE is also experimenting with a triple currency system - important in a F2P game - which I've never seen done by another studio before. It's very impressive actually. It's what makes FW much more interesting (and playable) to me than the other PWE games I've played. Basically, there's your cash shop currency (which you can exchange for in game gold); there's in-game gold, which can be traded between players, is gotten from a very few quests, and is limited in circulation (at this point) because the control of the creation of it is intentionally highly limited - inflation is always a killer in F2P games because money in this genre of games literally falls from the sky; and the third currency - which makes the whole thing intriguing - soul coins - which are quest reward gold that you can ONLY use on NPCs and cannot ever be traded with other players. It's the third currency that holds all 3 together, and makes FW really playable.

In other F2P games from PWE newbieness is a horrible scraping hardship when it comes to gold, thereby pushing you towards the cash shop. But in FW, I'm actually enjoying it enough that I WANT to pay PWE money, I just haven't decided on what yet. And I find that fascinating. It's precisely because, unlike other PWE games, FW doesn't make you go through Hell and high water if you want - oh, a mount, for instance. You can get one through pure in-game means. Which in turn, leaves me feeling a lot less blackmailed than PWE games usually do, and reinforces my awe at PWE. I didn't think they could truly adapt to an APPEALING model for the English-speaking market, but FW is exactly that.

PWE is obviously experimenting with different degrees of monetisation thoughout all their games. They used to do a top down model - what works for the flagship, Perfect World, they then reproduce throughout all their other titles. But now, they're changing/tweaking for each title they publish, some to a greater extent, some to a lesser extent. Jade Dynasty is their apotheosis of the virtual lotto world, but not all of their games are like that. At least, not anymore.

By implementing the three currency system, PWE has given players a kind of welfare system - but not exactly because players still have to earn it. It definitely gives players a playability buffer. Which also makes me wonder what effect the third currency is having on their direct profits. Oh, they run the lotto system at the same time, but it also alleviates the OMGthisisunplayable without forking over cash initially. So I'm wondering if it brings more cash long term, because it eventually converts more freeloaders into paying customers. Certainly, it makes their games a lot more pleasant to play - the ones of theirs I've tried without it are a bit insane at lower levels due to the money issue. Not even having enough to buy basics from AI, or having to watch that like a hawk is no fun. Whereas in FW, I have almost no money I can trade to players, but I don't really care and am happily running around watching my vamp chick's boobs bounce (yay boobies), because I have a break-even-not-stressed amount I can trade with AI. This makes me a happy little noobie nugget.

Which leads me to the most interesting point. With FW, PWE has earned my goodwill for the first time. I want to pay for stuff from them, not because I feel forced to in order to progress, but because I think the game is entertaining enough that they deserve it. As someone who works in marketing, one of the things I've learned is that customer goodwill is invaluable. It'll be fascinating to see how FW, and other PWE titles continue to develop.

And for those of you who care about such ratings, in ze nuggetty opinion, Forsaken World is an AAA MMO title.